If you’re considering an inquest into the death of someone close to you, or have read about the process, then you’ll know there’s a considerable amount of legal jargon that comes out of any proceedings.
Here we give you the top terms you might need to know, to help you when you’re involved in an inquest:
- Article II inquest
- Balance of probabilities
- Beyond reasonable doubt
- Coroner’s officer
- Exceptional Case Funding
- Interested Person (IP)
- “Jamieson Inquest”
- Legal Help
- Means Test
- Merits Test
- “Middleton Inquest”
- Narrative conclusion
- Open conclusion
- Pre-inquest Review (PIR)
- Prevention of Future Deaths (PFD) report
- Read (Rule 23)
- Short-form conclusion
Article II inquest
This refers to Article II of the European Convention on Human Rights (commonly known as the ‘right to life’). If the death occurs under state care, or by agents of the state, then Article II will be invoked as the State is required to take appropriate steps to safeguard life. Death in police custody is an example of such an inquest.
Balance of probabilities
The burden of proof required for inquests (the same as for civil trials), except the conclusions of unlawful killing or suicide. i.e. is a version of events more likely than not?
A lawyer, who is also known as Counsel, who can represent you at an inquest and ask questions on your behalf.
Beyond reasonable doubt
This burden of proof is required for conclusions of unlawful killing or suicide. i.e. there is no other logical version of events, as derived from the facts.
A witness who must attend the inquest and give evidence in person.
Previously known as a verdict, this is the formal outcome of the Inquest. Examples of conclusions include natural causes, accidental death and suicide.
An official who holds the inquest, similar to a judge in court. They also order the post-mortem examination.
Helps the coroner with the inquest process, such as corresponding with Interested Persons and managing the disclosure of information.
Exceptional Case Funding
A type of legal aid funding that helps cover the cost of representation by a solicitor and/or barrister at an inquest.
A judicial inquiry held when there has been a sudden, unexplained, violent or unnatural death. The purpose is to determine how, where and when the death occurred.
Interested Person (IP)
Individuals and bodies with the right to ask questions at an inquest; as defined in the Coroners and Justice Act 2009. Family members i.e. parents and partners of the person who has died are automatically IPs but the definition can also include a hospital, care home, Council, trade union, police force and many other bodies, dependent upon the circumstances.
A type of Article II inquest, where neglect by an individual is considered.
Legal aid funding that covers the cost of advice and assistance from a solicitor to help prepare for an inquest.
The review of the applicant’s financial resources undertaken by the Legal Aid Agency when deciding whether to grant funding.
The review of the applicant’s case undertaken by the Legal Aid Agency when deciding whether to grant funding. The Legal Aid Agency will consider whether there is a risk of a breach of the Article 2 ‘right to life’ if funding is not granted. They will also look at whether there is a wider public interest in relation to the inquest, i.e. whether representation at the inquest would produce a significant benefit for a wider class of people other than the applicant and their family.
A type of Article II inquest, where systemic neglect is considered.
An opportunity by the coroner (sometimes delegated to the jury) to outline their conclusion in detail and emphasise any issues. Occasionally a questionnaire is produced for the jury to answer.
No conclusion can be reached based on the evidence presented.
A detailed examination of the body to determine the cause of death. Otherwise known as an autopsy.
Pre inquest review (PIR)
A meeting held with the coroner and Interested Persons to plan for the Inquest. PIRs typically address legal and procedure issues before the full inquest, including: disclosure of information; which witnesses will attend in person; and confirming the Interested Persons.
Prevention of Future Deaths (PFD) report
If the coroner believes that the death could have been prevented, then they have a duty to write to whoever they have identified as the appropriate authority, recommending that change is considered. Otherwise known as a Regulation 28 Report.
Read (Rule 23)
A statement by a witness is read at the inquest but the witness does not have to be physically present in court. This allows their statement to be admitted as evidence. Rule 23 of the Coroners (Inquests) Rules 2013 was the rule that allowed this.
The statements that your barrister will make on your behalf. i.e. your interpretation of the evidence presented.
There are a range of these available to the coroner, including but not limited to: suicide, industrial disease, misadventure and natural causes.
See Conclusion definition above.